By the time we get to 1984 Eurovision is clearly on a crossroad. The world around it is changing rapidly and the contest seems to struggle to keep up. There’s no real musical relevance vs. the real world and the Eurovision bubble is growing. Gimmicks and generic ballads are taking over the Contest while the likes of Madonna, U2, Eurythmics, Duran Duran and lots of others are taking the world by storm. What’s wrong with this picture? The 1984 edition sums it up nicely.
A slash of fear when I see that RTL decided to go back to the Théâtre Municipal, the desastrous location of the ’73 edition of the Contest. Remember the orchestra being stacked up behind the performers? Thank heavens they had the sense of appointing Roland de Groot to design the stage, after his groundbreaking work in ’70, ’76 and ’80, although the ’84 design seems to somewhat tap out of the same barrel with a lot of pieces to be manipulated. But I’m not complaining. Host Désirée Nosbusch is a Wrong Choice, clearly lacking any experience or ability to control her nerves. Still, I get a better vibe from it all than with ’73.
Musically however I am completely underwhelmed. After years of French ballads winning, alternating with brainless childish songs I can slowly start to see why so many people get annoyed by the Contest. When you see how little effort some countries put into their participation… Or do they simply assess the situation in a wrong way? It’s not about presenting something you think others might like, it’s about selling your strong features! Too often we end up with some generic blubber that’s instantly forgettable. There, I’ve had my rant. Of course some of those desperate attempts to get noticed are highly entertaining, which is why we love the Contest anyway.
Some of those desperate attempts do raise some eyebrows @ Dimivision’s homeground – I’m looking at you and your chesthair, Cyprus. It’s the only thing I remember from your 3 minutes of lame-eum-fame. Or what to think of Denmark’s pocketsize transgender Dracula? Or Blondie’s The Tide Is High on acid from Finland? Or Austria’s cotton candy without a decent voice? Or Peter, Sue & Marc’s retarded cousins/copies from Switzerland?
Some countries got lost along the way it seem. Yugoslavia had been paying attention obviously and tried to give a Balkan swing to the popular Italian style but still sounded like a cheap rip-off. The fact that the male part of the duo looked like he had just risen from the grave can’t have helped either. The Netherlands, while loved by many, lost the plot as well for me. I could have liked the song if it hadn’t been sung so overly dramatic. Ow, and of course there’s that horrendous bow taking away all of the attention.
A top ten is hard to form honestly, but let’s have a go – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Germany – Aufrecht geh’n
Number ten by default actually, narrowly beating the equally boring French entry. Both wannabe James Bond casino pastiches, both a bit bland and never exciting. I liked Mary Roos a lot better with her previous attempt where she looked and came across less beige.
2 points: Turkey – Halay
Voulez-vous? Aha! The verses are clumsy, the chorus is too ABBA to be healthy and I can’t look at them for too long. But the orchestra is fabulous and I like the musical build-up. The bridges sound as if they were directly taken from some Dallas episode. Could have been better with the right presentation.
3 points: Belgium – Avanti la vie
The drama, the drama! The lighting, the voice, the swaying, the poses, the voice, the lighting! It’s an okay take on the overly present French ballad but Jacques Zegers should have taken it down a notch to make it a bit more digestable. I like the atmosphere but it’s just a bit too much. And I would have switched places between the tiny backing and the tall blonde one in front for more balance, she’s a bit lost behind and it’s a bit comical when they start to sway and you see her struggling for the spotlight. Nothing gets missed by the eagle eye!
4 points: Spain – Lady lady
Linda Evans, clean up isle 9, Linda Evans! Vocally this is okay, especially with the backing, but again this is very ABBA. except for the musical composition of course, which is far too middle of the road to tickle my interest. That chorus is really cheap, with that dumb English title added on top it. They try to cover it up quite well, but it’s still très meih *shruggs shoulders*
5 points: Portugal -Silêncio e tanta gente
Hey lady, you lady, cursing at your life. A splash of Priscilla again but poured into a bit of a weird structure. I could have done without the parts where the backing comes to break the lovely atmosphere. I love the demure approach they’ve taken however, though I have my doubts about the black dress that makes her too funeralesque. But I have a soft spot for this one.
6 points: Norway – Lenge leve livet
Can you say Pas De Deux? I’d almost flunk them for their lack in originality, shame on them. I mean, those opening moves and those pimped outfits – they’re schlagering up our own groundbreaking entry from the year before. But they do it in an effective way, I like the chorus and the full instrumentation. Not too keen on the verses and the screams at the start but all in all quite okay.
7 points: Sweden – Diggiloo diggiley
The little whistle is really hilarious and the trumpet a bit of a shame: the orchestra needed a bit of time to warm it seems with the first song of the evening. The whipping sound is very effective and gives the song a bit of umph. Not that The Herrey’s need it with that kind of confidence, both vocally and in the performance. It makes sense, in a time where Wham! rules the pop scene, that this won as it’s one of the only professional and well executed concepts of the evening. I get it.
8 points: United Kingdom – Love games
Baby love, my baby love! No need to repeat all the plagiarism accusations, but it does sound an awful lot like it. So it’s a matter of deciding if that fact bothers you (which it clearly did for some judging by the booing in the public afterwards), and Belle and the Devotions give a good enough performance for me to like it. It’s happy, it doesn’t fall flat anywhere and vocally they manage to keep it together. Not Diana Ross and her Supremes but okay. Not going to begin about the outfits as I don’t want to give them any more attention than they clearly seek.
10 points: Italy – I treni di Tozeur
Vlad vill bite you if you get too close. Without a shadow of a doubt the best song in the Contest with arguably one of the best chorusses and musical build-ups ever. But Franco Battiato ruins the entire experience for me with his zombie accountant attitude. Vocally he slips up in the verses, manages to limit the damage in the chorus but he simply is no match for the class act that is Alice. Not too sure about the operatic seconds near the end but it’s a classic alright.
12 points: Ireland – Terminal ‘3’
What’s deal with the pimped kimono’s? Linda Martin works it however, both in presence and voice. The most modern song of the bunch and the only one to tick all the boxes for me: it’s got power, it sounds fresh, it’s a well balanced concept and it’s done very well. I can’t believe Johnny Logan wrote this, it sounds so dissimilar from his own winning song! Not too convinced by the theme, but that’s a minor criticism. I love this.
So all in all I think the juries did quite well this year, with the exception of Denmark in their top and my bottom five ànd the fact they dared place Luxembourg tenth while it’s my wooden spoon. Sophie Carle simply destroyed that song, which wasn’t all that great to begin with, and I will never understand how they could have picked her to follow up Corinne Hermes. Shameful.
Now let’s take a look at the all time top ten shall we? Again little changes at the top, bar Italy reclaiming 4th place. Sweden is back and right outside Ireland is waiting for its turn with already 3 wins under their belt – a record they share with Italy :
1 Netherlands 133 (1970 – 1971)
2 Belgium 124 (1968 – 1983)
3 France 119 (1960 – 1977)
4 Italy 116 (1958 – 1964 – 1978)
5 Germany 111 (1959 – 1975)
6 United Kingdom 105 (1961 – 1965)
7 Finland 94 (1962 – 1979)
8 Spain 92 (1973)
9 Portugal 91 (1972)
10 Sweden 85 (1974)
Now pack your underwear everyone, it’s time for 1985!